UNION COUNTY — A lack of financial aid combined with interest in a manufacturing certification course to be offered later this year has resulted in less than two dozen people enrolling in the Union County Advanced Technology Center’s summer semester.
The summer semester began Monday and UCATC Site Coordinator Kathy Jo Lancaster said that a total of 23 people are enrolled, including 15 in the center’s welding program and eight in an English course. In 2013, a total of 50 people were enrolled for the summer semester.
Lancaster said the low number of students is not unique to UCATC, pointing out that colleges and universities nationwide are seeing lower than normal enrollment for the summer semester. She said this was due primarily to the fact that there is less financial aid available for students looking to enroll for summer courses than there has been in the past.
Another factor is that many students who might have taken courses in the summer have instead opted to work and resume their studies in the fall.
Lancaster said she has also heard from some students that they have opted not to attend the summer semester, but instead enroll in the five-week South Carolina Manufacturing Certification (SCMC) program that will be offered in June, July and September.
The SCMC is an entry-level advanced manufacturing certification that consists of 200 hours of state-funded training comprised of three core certificate programs plus 40 hours of hands-on training in state-of-the-art labs. The certifications include MSSC Certified Production Technician, Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt and OSHA 10 — General Industry. Timken, BMW Manufacturing Company, Michelin, and Hamrick Mills served as advisors during the curriculum development, and the SCMC training, which is being offered by the Spartanburg Community College’s Corporate & Community Education Division, is endorsed by Spartanburg Steel Products, Duer Carolina Coil, Leigh Fibers, Venture Measurement Company and Inman Mills.
Lancaster said that students have expressed an interest in taking the SCMC as opposed to attending the summer semester because it will provide them with the skills training and certification that employers in the manufacturing industry are looking for.
The SCMC is designed to address the skills gap in South Carolina and increase employment in the Union County area. Those who successfully complete the certification program will be Certified Production Technicians whose salaries range from $25,000-40,000.
Lancaster said the UCATC is hoping to enroll a total of 20 students in the SCMC program.
For more information about the SCMC and other educational opportunities at the Union County Advanced Technology Center call 864-466-1060.